Technical Note 20/6
SOUTH CHINA SEA: EAST ASIAN MONSOON
Modified by Pinxian Wang from Proposal 484-Rev Submitted by:
P. Wang, M. Sarnthein, L. Wang, Z. Jian, S. Xu, L. Zheng, Y. Luo, K. Xia,
D. Xu, H-K. Wong, T. Luedmann, and W. Kuhnt
Staff Scientist: Peter Blum --- Co-Chief Scientists: TBN
Leg 184 will core hemipelagic sediments in the South China Sea (SCS) to determine the evolution
and variability of the East Asian monsoon in the late Cenozoic. Of the six proposed drill sites (Fig.
1), five are located on the northeastern continental slope southeast of the Dongsha Islands, and one
is on the southern slope south of the Nansha Islands near the Sunda Shelf, with water depths
ranging from 625 m to 3190 m.
The main goal of Leg 184 is to improve our knowledge of the link between climate and tectonics.
Land-based studies in China and other parts of East Asia have developed a four-stage model of
monsoon evolution. The proposed drilling will calibrate the terrestrial record with that of the global
ocean. It is suggested that uplift of the Tibetan Plateau is responsible for both the late Cenozoic
global cooling and for the intensification of the Asian monsoon; therefore, a comparison between
records of monsoons, denudation rates, and climate cooling in the SCS will test this hypothesis.
Drilling of high-sedimentation-rate hemipelagic deposits in the SCS will provide the proxy records
for this test.
There are four major scientific objectives for the leg: (1) to obtain a continuous marine record of
East Asian climate history for the late Cenozoic and to compare the evolution of the East Asian
monsoon system with the South Asian or Indian monsoon system; (2) to examine the possible
relationship between the Tibetan Plateau uplift, monsoon evolution, and global cooling; (3) to
improve our understanding of the stability of the Western Pacific Warm Pool and the role of
seasonality changes in low-latitude marginal seas; and (4) to establish a detailed history of sea-level
changes for the SCS.
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